by Nick Christiansen
Animated television matters because it can accomplish what live action cannot. With animation, artists can create a world that’s perfect for anchoring in their own flavor of hilarious dialogue and plot. Also, it allows creators to make something like a spy show in which the characters are constantly traveling to exotic locations for a fraction of the price of live action. This empowers creators that aren’t bound by an ultra powerful parent company to put out fun and unique content.
With shows like F is for Family and Big Mouth, the writers are trying to accomplish the task of making a show that’s not only funny, but also insightful and fresh. With Big Mouth, we follow a middle schooler who is a victim of his emerging sex drive. Right away this sounds controversial and extremely uncomfortable, but with the power of animation and hilarious voice acting, the product is actually really funny an unique. The show embodies the boy’s sex drive into something called the Hormone Monster. This is a figure of the main boy’s imagination that jumps into the scene whenever the boy gets aroused. For example, this happens when he is in sex ed and when he is staring at a cat clock. In sex ed you hear the teacher say, “the eggs then travel down the falopian tube” when the monster appears and goes, “Falopian, what a savory word. Describes exactly what it is, know what I mean?” The boy responds by saying that he’s in school and that this all needs to stop. This shows the good side of the boy and his inner struggle against his sexual demon. Only in animation can a show accomplish and have it be hilarious. It opens up external and internal discussion on sensitive topics like this by showing us how silly the human condition really is. middle schoolers an adults alike are able to get into this story element because we all have a sex drive.
In F is for Family, things are slightly more serious and the story revolves around a war veteran father dealing with the daily struggles of being a father in a 70s America. The dad has anger issues much like his voice actor Bill Burr and he shows this part of himself in a hilarious and understandable way. When his youngest son breaks his TV, he takes it back to the shop and chews out the employee in a very appropriate though aggressive way. And that’s what I like about the show, it can be surprisingly aggressive and violent, but in an interesting way. For example, the oldest son is a punk rocker who is always swoonin the ladies and causing trouble. He’s a good kid though as he sticks up for his little brother when the boy needs help. The youngest boy gets chased up a tree by older kids who shoot him with a pellet gun and when the older boy hears of it, he leaves his make-out session and comes to the rescue. Once arriving on the scene, the older brother whoops some ass before saving his brother and giving him some tough love. This was very fun to watch because a lot of sitcoms and live action shows staring middle school and high school boys portray them as being soft as a kitten (except for Stranger Things). This is not always the case, so showing a little aggression in a TV show is refreshing.
After watching both of these shows, I decided that I really liked them (especially Big Mouth) and I plan on watching them more in the future. These shows are partially as good as they are because the star voice actors are stand up comedians who became well known through appealing to audiences time after time. This means they got where they are and ended up in these shows not through being selected by a single casting agent, but by thousands upon thousands of people who found them hilarious. It is as if we are partially putting the power back into people through crowd sourcing talent. I hope to see more of this kind of content as it is really fresh and entertaining, and it gives me hope for the entertainment industry’s future.